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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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skull

Bones contain a lifetime of personal information. Some of the evidence in bone — sex, ancestry, and genetic makeup — is fixed. Some of it — height, age, diet, illness, injury — varies over the course of a life.

The biological profile of every skeleton is unique. In a forensic or archaeological investigation, a bone biography along with evidence at the scene can answer many questions about an unidentified person. Even after fingerprints and facial features are gone or unrecognizable, skeletal evidence can tell us, Who was this? What did she look like? What did he do? and maybe How did she die?

image of surgical intervention    How Bone Biographies "Get Written"

What happens during a person's life and death, and what happens to the bones after death leave evidence behind.

three generations of the same family    How Bone Biographers Make the ID

Scientists use specialized tools and technologies to read the clues in the bones.

 

 

 

 

 

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